“He said it was the first case of doping in tennis” | Relief

“He said it was the first case of doping in tennis” | Relief
“He said it was the first case of doping in tennis” | Relief

Paris.- Who was the king of Roland Garros before Rafael Nadal Will he almost make ridiculous all the existing and future records with his 14 titles? The logical thing to think about is Björn Borg, the Swede who won six times on French clay before retiring at the age of 26. The books say otherwise. Although there is debate.

In any ranking consulted about who is the male tennis player with the most titles in Paris, Rafael Nadal and his 14 crowns will appear at the top. Then comes the doubt: In some classifications he will be followed by Bjorn Borg and in others it will be Max Décugis. Borg does not need any introduction because he is one of the best tennis players ever, but Who is Max Décugis?

To do this you have to rewind a lot in history. You have to travel back to more than 100 years ago, when tennis was played in long pants.oday when rackets were heavy wooden contraptions. At that time Roland Garros was not known as Roland Garros. That’s where the debate around his figure comes from: Between 1902 and 1920, Décugis won 8 singles, 14 doubles and 7 mixed doubles titles of what was called the French Tennis Championships.. Until 1925, only French tennis players participated in this tournament, which is why some historians do not count it in their Roland Garros statistics.

“Very, very few people know who Max Décugis is”said years ago the head of the museum of the French Tennis Federation, Michael Guittard, in The New York Times. “Even for the big French fans, the first great champions they can name are some of the musketeers: René Lacoste, Jean Borotra and perhaps Henri Cochet. “They also name Suzanne Lenglen, but they don’t go that far back for Max Décugis.”

Décugis was born in 1882 in Paris and was the first great French tennis player. “He was known for his strong shots and his diabolical precision.“, said Michael Guittard. “And then he had an iron will, which allowed him to win many games. He didn’t take anything for granted, so there is a parallel with Nadal in a certain way.“.

He had a style similar to the Great Gatsby. He had very dark hair, parted in the middle and all combed back,” Christophe Clarey, one of the best tennis chroniclers ever, noted in 2014 on Bill Littelfield’s Only a Game radio show. “He was one of the first truly offensive players, in France at least: he had a great serve and a great attack“.

As you can see in this photo, the face of Max Décugis is present in the 2024 edition. He has been one of the names chosen by the organization to shape a corridor of former champions.

The history of “doping”

One of the most remembered stories about Décugis was his “doping” episode. During a tournament in 1911 in Brussels, the Frenchman was losing 6-0, 6-0 and 5-4 to Tony Wilding, who at that time was one of the best tennis players in the world. “He managed to reverse the situation and win the game, he took the last three sets 7-5, 6-0 and 6-0. He won a bunch of games in a row and it was a shocking result“Christopher Clarey recalled.

Jacques Dorfmann, the match referee, spoke years later with the French magazine L’Express and revealed the secret that helped Décugis come back: they gave him a small piece of fruit when he was down 5-4 in the third set. It was a kola nut., a fruit full of caffeine. “Max told me that he thought that, through no fault of his own, it had been the first case of doping in tennis.“Dorfmann told the magazine.

 
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